Two guitarists

Access ‘Video 5a and 5b – Composing for film’ interviews with Me-Lee Hay and then discuss and respond to the following questions.




short melodies or rhythms that can be used in many ways

Thematic development/melodic theme

using a melody or theme in many ways or contexts, such as changing the tempo and changing the instrument


a musical sentence or idea


a list of the instruments playing in a piece

Cue (film music)

a piece of music to play during a film scene

Montage scene/incidental conversations

several short film scenes cut and pasted back-to-back; one continuous piece of music is often used to smooth the cuts

Story arc

the structure of a storyline, including the climax




digital audio workstation; computer software for recording and/or editing music and sounds

Time code

indicates the exact time location in a piece of music or film


included free in the software


stringed instruments producing notes with a bow made from horsehair and wood

Fine cut

version of a film in between rough cut and the final, locked edit; incorporates some music and sound effects as well as some careful editing of visuals and frames

Locked edit

version of a film once the visuals have been finalised, ready for sound


music that supports a melody or main tune

Acoustic instruments

any instrument played without electricity or amplification


try-outs for a position in the cast or crew of the film


chords or countermelody that support a melody

Score (film score)

original music used in a film

Soft synth

sounds produced in digital music software


draft using sample materials


musical notes and symbols written on a staff consisting of 5 parallel lines

Score in Pro Tools

musical notation view feature in Pro Tools audio editing software

Midi roll (piano roll)

digital input of musical notes, not requiring traditional notation

Sampled (a magpie)

recording a sound in order to edit it


software feature that cuts out a small selection of audio frequencies

Equalisation (EQ)

adjust the volume of different frequencies to create a purer sound

Time stretch

make music fit the timing of a scene

Found sound

a recording of nature or non-musical sound (for example a lawn mower)

Rough cut

version of a film before the final, locked edit; incorporates some music and sound effects as well as some careful editing of visuals and frames


re-configure music to allow for changes in film edit (for example changes made from rough cut to fine cut)


sketches of scenes (to be animated or drawn)


musical noises and/or environmental sounds without rigid structure or detailed planning


a list of musical pieces used in a film; some tracks might be composed especially for the film (the score)

Temp music

a musical track chosen by the director or producer as backing music for a film scene, to act as a guide for the composer to create music of a similar mood


  • What is a melodic theme?
  • What is a motif in music?
  • Describe the theme and variations approach to film scoring.
  • What is the purpose and function of music in a film?
  • How does music assist the flow of a montage scene?
  • List 3 DAWs (digital audio workstations) commonly used to compose film music.
  • What are soft synths?
  • How does consideration of a budget affect the approach to film music composition?
  • How did Me-Lee Hay use a radio harp in an unusual way?
  • Give an example of how smart phones might be used to sample sounds.
  • Why is it worth saving and filing every sound experiment and recording that you have made, even the ones you’re unhappy with?
  • At what stage of the film production process does a composer commonly start their work on a short film?
  • What is the meaning of re-conform?
  • What is the process for composing music for an animation?
  • When discussing ideas for a score with a film director, what type of language should the composer use?
  • True or false: composers work in isolation when working on film music.